Foreign interns restricted
Foreigners have been banned from working as interns for members of parliament, a Senate spokesman said yesterday, in a reform apparently aimed at blocking Chinese prying. The program placing young people in a much-prized position working for a federal legislator for three months had been open to all nationalities, as long as the applicant did not have a criminal record. The spokesman declined to comment on what prompted the alteration. The Financial Times in September last year reported that a New Zealand citizen who had previously interned at an Australian parliamentary committee had links to a Chinese military spy school, prompting a review of the intern system, which concluded that standards should be bought in line with the rest of the government. Chinese students had often applied to the program and many worked as interns over the years.
PNG, Solomons ink deal
Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands on Wednesday signed onto a joint undersea Internet cable project, funded mostly by Australia, that forestalls plans by Chinese telecom Huawei Technologies to lay the links itself. Australia is to pay two-thirds of the project cost of A$136.6 million (US$100.9 million) under the deal, signed on a visit to Brisbane by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela and PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. “We spend billions of dollars a year on foreign aid and this is a very practical way of investing in the future economic growth of our neighbors in the Pacific,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters. The project, for which Australian telecom Vocus Group is building the cable, is to link the two nations to the Australian mainland, besides connecting the Solomons capital Honiara with the archipelago’s outer islands.
MeToo fells professor
Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou has suspended a prominent primatologist in a victory for the nation’s slow-building #MeToo movement. The university yesterday announced that it would suspend Zhang Peng (張鵬) and revoke his honorary titles after confirming two complaints from female students. It did not disclose the allegations, but said it had “zero tolerance” for teacher misconduct and would safeguard students’ legal rights. Zhang held visiting positions at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kyoto, and had been inducted into the Chang Jiang national fellowship program. The #MeToo discussion has drawn in Chinese state media, including the People’s Daily, which urged schools to listen to “young people’s voices” and address complaints without being evasive.
Python found in hard drive
A passenger with a python hidden inside an external hard drive was stopped from boarding a Florida plane headed to Barbados. The Miami Herald on Sunday reported that officers screening luggage at Miami International Airport found an “organic mass” inside a checked bag. A bomb expert then examined the bag and discovered the live snake in the hard drive, Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said, adding that the snake was “obviously not an imminent terrorist threat,” but its interception prevented a possible wildlife threat. The passenger was fined and the snake was taken into custody by Fish and Wildlife Services.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
‘SHOW RESTRAINT’: Kismayo elder Adan Jama said that dead bodies were strewn in the battle zone and civilians were fleeing as the fighting had affected several villages At least 20 people have been killed in southern Somalia in clashes between militia from rival clans fighting over land, officials and witnesses said on Thursday. Tensions between fighters from the Owrmale and Majerten clans, which live about 30km outside the southern city of Kismayo, have been rising in recent weeks. “The fighting intensified today, and 20 people from the two sides were killed and dozen others including civilians wounded. This is a horrible situation that needs to be stopped,” local government official Abdikarin Mohamed said. “The dead bodies are strewn in the battle zone and civilians are fleeing as the fighting has